Category Archives: Food
So what is a “summer wine?” Well, the snarky (but accurate) answer is that a “summer wine” is whatever happens to be in your glass from June 20th to September 21st. However, most of the time we’re talking about anything that is light, crisp, and refreshing – a wine that can benefit from a bit of time in the refrigerator (or even – *gasp* – the occasional ice-cube in the glass). For me, most often that means Sauvignon Blanc nice and frosty right out of the ‘fridge. In fact, I think one of the things I like the most about this wine is that whenever I have a sip of it, no matter what time of the year it may be, it always conjures up visions of relaxing on warm summer evenings with family and friends.
Close runners-up for summer time R&R are Riesling and Rosie – little known fact: we make a fantastic rosé, but it isn’t available for purchase, sorry, we make it just for our owners and employees – which are both exceptional end-of-the-day thirst quenchers and also pair beautifully with that other great American summer tradition, barbeque! Try the Riesling with some Memphis style ribs – you’ll be pleasantly surprised; the Sauv Blanc, on the other hand, is a great match for barbequed oysters. As far as the Rosie goes, it is a small production rosé of Zinfandel that is great with grilled pork chops. Maybe someday we’ll make enough to share… Now, don’t worry, I’m not leaving out the Chardonnay, and no it is not 4th place on my summer (or any other) list, but it is far too versatile to be pigeon-holed as a “summer wine.” I love a cool glass of Montelena Chardonnay anywhere and (just about) any time – with delicate sable (butterfish) in August, or herb crusted roast chicken in January – it is always a great choice.
What will you fill your glass with this summer?
I’m sure by now most of you know we have a tasting room in San Francisco at the Westin St. Francis. But, did you know we have a great presence throughout the city in other venues where you can enjoy CM wines? Here’s a list of few standouts you need to visit:
- 5A5 Steakhouse on Jackson St. – Set in a beautiful neighborhood, this unique restaurant features Wagyu beef (graded at various levels) and you can order your steak by the ounce to your specifications. Remember, Wagyu beef is rich; you don’t need to order typical American sizes of like a 28 oz porterhouse to truly fill you up. Hip, vibrant, great food (don’t forget the Hamachi shooters to start), and our Napa Cab by the glass!
- Four Seasons – For those who have not dined in a high-quality hotel before, let me explain (since I used to be in hotel business, I know!), some of these hotel restaurants offer the best quality of food you can get. They might not have a flagged celebrity chef behind it, but trust me, their quality of ingredients are second to none. These hotel restaurants are often loss leaders as far as the hotel ledger is concerned, but they provide this as part of the service to their guests who demand quality. What’s great is that you don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy this. I had the privilege to dine there last week – they easily match, if not top, some of the well- known eateries in town. Yes, you can also get our Napa Cab by the glass there too!
- John’s Grill - Comfort food with tradition. The old Dashiell Hammett (of Maltese Falcon fame) hangout is one of the oldest restaurants in the city and still serves up a blast-from-the-past menu.
- WaterBar – On the Embarcadero. As part of Pat Kuleto’s restaurant conglomerate, you know the ambiance/setting will be spectaular, and that’s even before you take in a breathtaking view of the Bay Bridge. Some of the freshest seafood/oysters that go perfectly with our Chardonnay.
- Wayfare Tavern – Tyler Florence’s presence on Sacramento Street was a hit from the start. True tavern food, lively setting, and service that is both thorough and formal while being personal and fun. Contradiction, you say? Go there and you’ll know what I mean. And use it as your cheat day and order the fried chicken.
- Oak Room – Set within the Westin St. Francis (see above, Four Seasons). Another hotel restaurant that promises some top quality food using some of the best ingredients. It’s a shame how so many visitors clamor to the famous restaurants in the city and ignore these gems within the hotels. Trust me, stop fighting the crowds, and dine in the hotels…
So you see, I love my wine, but I just can’t get enough of the city and food!
Bon Appetit and cheers!
Well, it’s not what you think – not from the alcohol, but from the end of another Movable Feast. After a year of planning, it came down to a four-hour party. By my calculations, that’s about 520 hours of planning for every one hour of partying….wow! Ok, ok, I didn’t spend the ENTIRE year planning, but towards the end, it sure felt like it! Anyhow, for those who came (and there were a lot of you), it looked like a good time was had by all. Look for pics coming soon.
Now comes the fun part; thinking about next year’s theme! Just when you’re ready to come up for air, you’ve got to get back up on that horse and start running again. If you have any fun ideas for next year’s Feast, send them my way. My brain is on temporary freeze.
We have just a few days left before the biggest event of the year – our Annual Movable Feast. This year’s theme: The Rat Pack and a throwback to Vegas. The front of the Chateau will come alive with costumes, music and decor – in all the glorious, if not a bit tacky, splendor of Las Vegas like yesteryear. Even the food is themed to those simpler times. Of course, we’ll have some great wines flowing throughout, including some new and never-before-seen items, such as a 2009 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, exclusively available to our club members.
So this isn’t a pitch to come join us; we’ve been sold out for weeks. Look for the pics, the stories, and most importantly, get on board early if you want to join us next year. My brain is already churning for next year’s theme.
Well, I’m off to a dubious start already on my New Year’s resolutions.
1st Resolution: Be on time with my commitments. Ok, so my first blog of 2012 is a week and a day late. Not good.
2nd Resolution: Go to the gym at least 3 times a week. I’ve been once since Jan 1 and I sort of waved over the machines on that visit.
3rd Resolution: Eat better; do a juice cleanse. Does wine count as a juice? Let me wipe my fingers from the chicken finger grease before I wreck my keyboard and write more excuses.
4th Resolution: Watch less tv; be more productive; go to the library; read more. How can I when I’m in the middle of Top Chef Texas, Walking Dead, Modern Family? No to mention that new episodes of Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain are just coming on! Do magazines count as reading?
5th Resolution: Learn more. Ok, let’s stop with this one.
As you may have read in a previous blog, I was ranting about having to go back and study for my CSW and how I thought I gave that up in college, and never wanted to look back – forgoing any more “tests and exams” in the future. Oh how I hated that stress! Well, now looking back, I was truly productive during the studying! I learned a lot, found myself covering 3 of my 4 resolutions above because of it, and that was without even trying. So, with a little discipline/self control, my commitment is to learn a new language. I’m traveling to Italy in the summer, so I figure, why not Italian? Being in the wine industry, I love our wines; no doubt, but what makes me appreciate it more is knowing what else is out there, including the Italian stuff. So here’s a resolution I intend to keep; and I know that it will help me with all the others. Check back with me in a few months; I’ll tell you if Rosette Stone is really worth the money. Ciao.
For those of you on my Christmas shopping list, a word to the wise: resist my constant requests to give me your Christmas wish list. If you give me your list, you’ll get something predictable. But if you don’t, you’ll stress me out and I’ll keep thinking about an ideal gift, wait until the last few shopping days and buy something beyond my budget just to get it over with.
So yes, I’ve just finished my holiday shopping, and those who procrastinated with sending me their wish list are the true benefactors of a highly expensive gift. Will they like it? Hard to say. The tough thing for me is, most of my friends love Montelena, but that’s too easy of a gift from me. That’s the low hanging fruit of shopping: too easy, too predictable. They’d love it, sure; but they also know I didn’t put a lot of effort into shopping beyond the workplace!
And you’d think that all of us working here at the Chateau are tired of the good juices. Well, we had our holiday luncheon last week with the (in)famous White Elephant gift exchange. Who would’ve thought it would be all the good boozy stuff that people kept stealing…. Nothing warms the soul more than the gift of booze, unless it was stolen from your co-workers.
Anyways, Merry Christmas to all…eat well, drink well; then we’ll all think about a good New Year’s resolution after we indulge.
I just spent a week on vacation after finishing another high season here at the Chateau and it was just what the doctor ordered; Thanksgiving in Boise, Idaho with some of my closest friends. I often get a funny reaction when I tell people I’m going to Boise for vacation. The consistent reaction I get is, “Why!?” My answer is always the same, “Have you ever been to Boise?” And the answer from all those who ask is always, “No.”
My friends have lived there for 20 years now, have built a beautiful home, have started a business, and know just about everyone you need to know in town. Boise is a city with a small town feel: it’s comfortable, easy to navigate and has great food and shopping. Did I mention the great food?
For breakfast, Goldie’s is a must: corned beef hash, farm fresh eggs – ohhh sooo good. Lunch/dinner: Fork was a standout; I went there twice in one week. I was there once for a burger (they use fresh brisket in their meat) and the other time for perhaps the best BLT (with egg on top) I’ve ever had. We were tempted to go back a third time! The only downfall there? No Chateau Montelena … Keep going back; we’ll get them to carry it!
For wine shopping, the Co-Op is as good a wine shop as I’ve seen in the best Urban cities. The selection from country to country, price point – all great. And, yes, they do carry CM!
Moral of this story: Before you poopoo a city you’ve never visited, give it a shot! Sometimes you just have to get out of your vacation comfort zones (i.e. New York, Hawaii, San Francisco) and head for a small town for true Americana.
As George noted last week, Thanksgiving is finally here! And I can hardly believe it – feels like it was NYE 2011 just the other day! Regardless, it’s great for me because Thanksgiving is, by far, my favorite holiday. Any day that I can eat delicious food to my heart’s content, spend time with my favorite people and drink amazing wines is a great day by me. This year, I’ll be attending two Thanksgiving feasts which is pretty much double the fun. I’ll really have to pace myself, that’s for sure.
This year, I’m really looking forward to dessert (which probably comes as no surprise to those who know me). I’ve found a scrumptious Paula Deen recipe laden with cream cheese, pumpkin and sugar that I’m hoping will take top prize in the annual dessert competition. As a bonus, it’s an homage to one of my best friends (and college roommate) who used to bake a traditional St. Louis-style gooey butter cake every time she went home for the holidays – and brought back the ooey, gooey, goodness when she returned to school each January. Needless to say, that cake was always devoured within about an hour after her arrival back on campus…it’s just THAT good. Now I’m trying my baking hand at it with the addition of pumpkin. I fully expect that to tip this dessert off the charts. Wish me luck in the competition.
As for the wine? Guess it’s time to raid the cellar and pick out a few special bottles. It’s always a treat to open those bottles that I’ve been saving for a special occasion – what better occasion than a fantastic feast with family and friends?
So this year, this Thanksgiving, I’m incredibly thankful for the people that make me laugh and smile each and every day and an opportunity to have them all together at one dinner table. Of course, I’m also thankful for great wine and the occasion to break out those special bottles and for Paula Deen and her indulgent sweets! I can barely wait for Thursday.
Wishing all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones. Open that special bottle and enjoy!
It just doesn’t feel right that Thanksgiving is next week. We’re just not in the holiday mode yet (despite the fact that the weather, tv commercials and retail stores are already getting Christmas into our heads). I remember back in the days when it used to be after Thanksgiving that we saw the holiday transformation happen.
Now is a good time to reflect on what to serve with your meals. I’m seeing more and more households move away from turkey, but whatever you choose to serve, be the hero and make a good wine pairing. A lot of us get caught into that ” I don’t want to bring great wine to be wasted on my aunt, who would just throw an ice cube in it anyways.” For me, being in the industry, I’m expected to bring good stuff, so I work to uphold my reputation. I’ve turned a lot of wine cooler/boxed wine people into budding wine snobs – they hate and love me at the same time…they can never go back to the bad stuff.
So, I encourage you to bring something good to the table. Educate; spread the wealth. If, after pouring Aunt Mary a great Zin or Chard and she tastes it then STILL reaches for the ice cubes…well, then she just gets jug wines from now on.
Save the date, Bay Area friends! On November 17th we’ll be at San Francisco hot-spot ZeroZero (826 Folsom) for a special Happy Hour appearance. Featuring some classic Montelena wines, and a few special surprises, it’s an event not-to-be-missed. Join us for some sips of your favorite Montelena wine or a new-to-you Montelena wine and stay for a scrumptious pizza hot out of the oven and cap off the evening with a sweet treat of soft-serve. It’s the best of both worlds: pizza and wine. We’ll be there from 6:00 to 9:00 – stop by and see us!